Once, when I was a kid, I asked my mom on Mothers’ Day why there wasn’t a Kids’ Day. Without missing a beat, she replied, “Kids’ Day is 364 days a year.”
Funny how moms are usually right.
Mothers’ Day is a strange holiday in so many ways.
Flippantly, I think, “Yes. I lost my life as I knew it, my body as I knew it, my career, and, for a while, my mind. Yet this one mass-marketed holiday a year will surely make up for all that.”
I chose to become a mother, though. I feel like I shouldn’t complain. Today, I am thinking about the mothers who didn’t choose motherhood, the mothers who didn’t live to see motherhood, the mothers who are waiting for their children who will not come home or will never be born. The mothers who pour their lives and love into other people’s children, longing for their own.
I am gathering the moments of this day into my heart like jewels. Breakfast in bed, served on a cookie tray. Two excited little boys bearing gifts: spice tea made in kindergarten; a picture consisting of a used sheet of printer paper with three cardboard glitter Christmas trees and a palm tree glued on it (“Look, Mama, it’s big, little, big, middle-sized!”); two shiny bead necklaces on neon green lanyard; a something-or-other made from a tiny straw hat, a styrofoam ball, and a pipe cleaner (“Look Mama, it’s a little man on a…on a….it’s a little man….”). Lots of hugs, some sweet and some NFL-style. Touseled little heads and runny noses. My mother, my nana, my mother-in-law. Choking up at the restaurant and fleeing to the bathroom when I think of the picture of my Gram that my aunt posted on Facebook this morning.
There is a hole in my heart and it is the shape of her smile.
I look across the room. There is a woman I know. She lost a son. I want to rush over to her and tell her that I am so, so sorry, that I can’t imagine what it feels like but that I am loving her so hard right now and that I can guess at the shape of the hole in her heart. I don’t rush over, though, because I know that if someone rushed over to me with a heart full of sorrow and love in this moment, I would dissolve into a blubbering heap on the buffet table. She might not want that, either.
I look at my nana. Her hands are older. A little bit of me crumbles. I look at my boys. I wonder what kind of divine leap of faith brought them to me. I think of friends who have lost themselves to motherhood, slipped like living ghosts from their own lives to haunt the edges of their children’s. I think of friends who feel the ache of empty arms. I think of friends whose mothers were not worth the name, and I just want this whole day to be over.
I am having trouble seeing the screen through my tears. This day is too full. My heart is too full. I am floating in a swirl of images, memories, and emotions.
Moms and children of moms, wherever you are, I am loving you so hard in this moment. I am holding you in my heart.